This week was very exciting for me to win two blue ribbons in the Delmarva on View exhibit at the Lewes Public Library. And customary to my spiritual life, I feel compelled to pause for a moment and reflect with gratitude, examine my attitudes, and ponder the direction of my life. Just for a moment, though, because then I’m going back to revel in the excitement and accolades!
I woke up on Wednesday thinking about next month’s Members’ Show at the Newark Arts Alliance, debating whether or not I would be entering a photograph. I was juried into 3 shows there already this year, which I consider to be marks in the successful column of my art business ledger because previously I wasn’t showing anywhere. None of those works sold, though, yet. I was admittedly feeling a bit defeated and had decided to not frame anything to take to NAA. Upon that decision, a little self-doubt crept in: “Maybe you aren’t really that good.” and “People aren’t really responding to your work, so why even show it?” and there was the “It’s okay to take a break, regroup, and try again next year.”
By then, I was out of bed and had gotten coffee to jump online for a couple minutes before going to work. (“Yeah, huge success you are with a paying day job.”) Awaiting in my inbox was notification that I had placed in the Delmarva on View exhibit. (“What?!”) I was so beyond excited, I quickly posted on here and Facebook the news. And then it was time for work. Postponing the rest of my happy dance, I had more time to think about my photography in general.
In my head I kept hearing the wise voice of my Art Biz Coach, Alyson, telling me I just need to keep showing and getting my work in front of people and talking about it. I can build sales and a following from there, but it can take 3-5 years to have anything substantial. After all, I started from the ground up. And then I remembered my definition of success: “Don’t give up!” and “I am talented with a unique point of view.” and there was the “Be grateful for every little win along the way leading up to the big ones.” I do know that I have a gift and that I’m fortunate enough to have the resources to share it with people like I do. I’m grateful I got this reminder from the judges saying I placed first and awarded best in show in the professional category.
It is very gratifying to receive this recognition. At the reception, I was talking with my parents about professional versus amateur categories on display. The winner circle noted the division, but the remaining 130 works hanging did not. Honestly, some of them I was unable to tell from a photographic stand point. Others, it was quite clear from the framing choices alone! I’m still impressed by the talent culled from all levels, though. Which then led to the discussion of why I entered the professional category if my art business is not my primary source of income. As I was completing the submission paperwork I asked myself the very same question, so it was easy to explain:
I am an Artist. I take my work very, but not too, seriously. I have spent countless hours working on composition and framing, teaching myself how to use a dSLR and Photoshop. I use this blog and an iPhone photo journal to explore topics and develop my own unique, creative point of view. I self-published a book. I show in exhibits. I have a business license and pay my taxes. I use business cards. I am a professional and I am successful.
It is really the attitude and approach I have that makes it so. Well, and that I self identify as a professional. There is no universal definition, no application process or metrics to reach for qualification. It was my decision. In interviewing with the press at the opening reception I was asked who I worked for. My initial reaction was confusion because I didn’t think I needed a studio or other conventional trappings of a pro. I answered: “Myself. I’m independent.” I am confident and comfortable with the direction and growth of my art, my photography.
I see this all as very defining moment for me because it clarified my reflections on myself, my photography, and my business goals. It’s a great confidence booster and as I see it, part of the universe pointing me along further along the path of my dreams! Stylistically that means I will be continuing to work in a square format and perfecting my B&W conversions, along with the color works.
REFLECTIONS © 2012 NATE METZ